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Published on 15 June 2010 09:00 AM

Elder Abuse Awareness Day 15 June – Time for greater understanding

15 June is Elder Abuse Awareness Day and a partnership set up by Age NI and Alzheimer's Society is calling for greater understanding of the issues facing older people who are at risk. Uniting Against Elder Abuse (UAEA) provides independent advocacy for frail older people and those with dementia, as well as raising awareness of the issue of elder abuse, which is not well understood by the general public. 

Some older people can be vulnerable to abuse as a result of isolation or because they are dependent on others for their health and well-being.  Elder abuse can be emotional, discriminatory, financial, physical, sexual, psychological, neglect or a combination of all of these.  Nearly three out of four of the abuse cases UAEA has dealt with involves a family member, half of whom are daughters or sons, bringing complicated family dynamics into play.   Cases of abuse are complex and under reported. It takes courage to report suspected abuse and those who do may be misunderstood, ignored or go unheard.  

Caryl Williamson, Senior Advocate with AGE NI said. ‘Our work has shown that there is little formal contact between statutory agencies and services, and support for those reporting elder abuse is often uncoordinated and fragmented. This is in marked contrast to the approach taken in the protection of children. 62% of the clients Age NI has worked with reported that they had no contact with social services.  We call on statutory representatives to work together, with the voluntary sector to ensure a more coordinated approach.’

Marian Cinnamond, Advocacy Manager, Alzheimer’s Society, ‘Elder abuse is under reported.  Clients and their families place a huge value on just being heard; sometimes for the first time.  People who are affected by abuse need to be aware of the support available.  United Against Elder Abuse can help bridge some of these gaps, but two years into the project we know we are barely scratching the surface of need.’

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Notes to editors

1 The Uniting against Elder Abuse (UAEA) is a partnership project which brings together Age NI and the Alzheimer’s Society and is funded by Comic Relief. The charities are delivering a two year programme with the specific aim of:

  • Providing independent advocacy for frail older people and those with dementia
  • Raising awareness of elder abuse, specifically amongst section 75 groups

If you would like to know more about the project, please contact:

Marian Cinnamond, Advocacy Manager, Alzheimer’s Society (advocacy support for older people with dementia)
Tel: 028 9038 7770

Caryl Williamson, Senior Advocate, AGE NI (advocacy support for frail older people)
Tel: 028 90245729

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575